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VolunteerToday.com~~ The Electronic Gazette for Volunteerism


Visit this page for ideas, suggestions and hints to build volunteer recruitment capacity.

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~ February 2004 ~ Topics

Speaking Kindly of the Departed

Volunteers come and go. Episodic volunteers serve for a weekend or a few hours. How do you talk about them when they are gone? Do you praise the work they did? Do remember the funny moments? Or do you talk about them in negative terms, letting everyone know that if they were smart they would still be with the organization?

Announcer ImageOne way to increase morale among volunteers is to speak highly of those who have gone before. This sends the message to new folks that this is a place that encourages personal development and even admires people who have moved on to new things. If volunteers started with an entry level position and are now on the board of directors, that is cause for celebration.

Positive attitudes begat positive attitudes. Volunteers tell friends that this is a terrific place to volunteer. Remember the single most effective recruiting method is word of mouth. So having happy volunteers, bragging about a program works for you when it comes time to ask for help.

Interview Tips

Brown Bullet Pick a comfortable location. Interview sites should put prospective volunteers at ease, not add to anxiety. Check out furniture, lighting, heat/cooling, how the room represents the organization, chairs for comfort and ease of getting in and out for all sizes of people.

Brown Bullet Let the potential volunteer talk. Resist the temptation to talk about the “wonderfulness” of the program and how the person will fit in! This is the time to listen. Ask non-directive questions to get the person talking. Make sure they are related to job duties or qualifications. Put on your listening hat.

Brown Bullet Never set false expectations. Be honest and clear about the position the person will fill. A primary reason that volunteers falter in their responsibilities is a misunderstanding of what is really expected. The position is not what they believe it was going to be and they behave accordingly.

Customer Service Reference

Some volunteers provide customer service support. They answer phones, greet customers, visitors, or patrons, or direct people to locations in a large facility. An important skill for these folks is positive communication with the public.

To determine whether a prospective volunteer is good at customer service, consider asking for references from people who have seen them engage in customer service. The references can come from another organization where the person served in a public contact position, but ask the applicant to supply the name of a customer (or two) they served in a previous position. Then ask the reference open-ended questions about their working relationship with the volunteer applicant, such as:

  1. Would you return to this person for assistance? Why or why not?
  2. In all your experience dealing with public service workers, rate this person from “the best ever” at the top; “satisfactory” for acceptable levels of service; “not want their help,” for unacceptable service. Why did you rate them that way?
  3. Have you observed this person providing service or information to another customer? If yes, can you describe what you saw them do and say.

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Dictionaries Are Trend Trackers - Answer Key from the News page
  1. Blog – abbreviations of Web log—an online journal on which others can comment
  2. Botox – chemical used in plastic surgery to enhance lips, and other body parts
  3. Identity theft –stealing a person’s document numbers such as credit cards or bank account numbers to benefit the thief.
  4. Amber Alert – second highest warning about terrorist activities, especially in the USA
  5. Nanotube – electrically conductive, tensile, and strong
  6. Transparency – openness in providing information about a company or organization
  7. Supersize – pay price for a retail item and receive a larger size for a small additional charge, say one cent. Used especially by fast food restaurants.

Interested in more information? Check out our online bookstore for: Volunteer Screening: An Audio Workbook and Volunteer Recruiting & Retention, A Marketing Approach, by author and managing editor Nancy Macduff. For more information, check out these books and more at our online bookstore.

Volunteer Screening Book Image Recruiting & Retention Book Image


The Points of Light Foundation has forms available to nominate volunteers and volunteer organizations for the Daily Points of Light Award. It is designed recognize individuals and groups that demonstrate unique and innovative approaches to community volunteering and citizen action, with a strong emphasis on service focused on the goals for children and young people set by the Presidents Summit for American's Future. The award is given five days a week, excluding holidays. If you would like nomination forms, call 202-729-8000.

By calling 1-800-VOLUNTEER in the U.S., individuals can be connected to their local volunteer center.
This is a national interactive call routing system designed to get volunteers connected to people who can help them volunteer.

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